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No policy yet on US troops

The Philippines seeks to be “less dependent” on the United States after President Duterte served “notice” to the American troops to leave Mindanao, Malacañang said yesterday.

“We’re not turning our back on anybody. We are simply charting an independent course,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a Palace press conference.

“The foreign policy that we have is an independent one, is not dependent on one superior state or two,” Abella added.
Abella, however, clarified that the President’s recent statement on the pullout of the US troops in Mindanao was not yet a policy.

He said Duterte’s statement was simply an “injunction” or a “warning” about the dangers facing American troops amid the lingering resentment among Filipinos over their past “unrepented” wrongs.

“It is not policy yet. It’s not policy. In other words, nobody acted on it yet,” he said. “It serves as notice that really the reason why there is trouble here is because of that threat,” he said.

Duterte earlier said US Special Forces in Mindanao must leave because their presence might only worsen the conflict in the south. Duterte also warned that Americans might be kidnapped or killed amid lingering anger of Muslims at the atrocities by US colonial troops in the early 1900s.

As he did in the recent regional summit in Laos, the President showed images of the massacre of Muslims by US troops during the Philippine-US war in 1906. (Genalyn Kabiling)